When Mother’s Day Isn’t Happy

To all the broken-hearted women who wish they could fall asleep Saturday evening and wake up on Monday morning… this one’s for you. The women for whom Mother’s Day delivers a twinge of sadness… or a dull ache. A shooting pain… or one that sears straight through your soul.

This one’s for the precious mommas who can’t hug their grown children… because they’re separated by miles and stay-at-home orders and the threat of a deadly virus.

So Mother’s Day will be spent in what feels like the worst way:


All the flowers/FaceTime calls/Hallmark cards/candy in the world – while lovely and appreciated – simply can’t compare to the sweet gift of togetherness. (< That is the most coveted Mother’s Day present of all.)

But there are some women whose sorrow won’t lift even when the COVID restrictions do. There are some whose sadness is soul-deep.

These are the women who hurt at every mention of Mother’s Day… and it has nothing to do with Coronavirus or quarantine or keeping 6 feet apart. These are the women whose heart breaks afresh every “second Sunday in May,” not just this one.

Childless mothers.

Those who buried their beautiful children…

Or never had them. (Because their bodies just couldn’t cooperate.)

They suffer excruciating phantom pains:

Of lives they cannot share. Embraces they cannot feel. Memories they cannot make.

So many moms who’ve lost a child to stillbirth or miscarriage or cancer or stroke or suicide or accident or abortion or estrangement… (Sadly, this list goes on and on.) Women who silently bear their burden of bereavement. At graduations, weddings, baby showers. On birthdays, holidays, all the days.

That kind of grief is real/raw/relentless.

For women like them, this “holiday” to celebrate mothers holds next to nothing.

Except anguish.

(And unfortunately, there isn’t a cardiac surgeon in the world who can repair that kind of broken heart.)

More than anything, mothering means nurturing.

And I can almost feel your ache to nurture… to teach and care and comfort and counsel. To feed a little body… and soul. I see your heart that holds more than enough love for another human being (or three). I sense your willingness to do almost anything just to be able to be – and do – what you wish.


You long for the title – and its responsibilities – because you were made in the image of God – the very Essence of flawless nurturing. He is the perfect (and undeniably the most patient) Parent ever. Not only is He our Heavenly Father… He invented and ordained the art of mothering.

Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions. The Lord alone guided them… (Deuteronomy 32:11-12a)

So what to do when you’re aching to rouse and hover and carry and guide… and you can’t? (Or never could.)

Start with your feelings.

Notice them.

Feel them.

And maybe… if you’re feeling really brave… share them. (But only with someone worthy of your trust and willing to hear your whole – good/bad/ugly – story.)

Give yourself grace and mercy.

(And maybe some flowers and chocolate too.)

Listen, I’m not suggesting you pretend that Mother’s Day is your favorite day of the year. And I’m not trying to make it happy/breezy/sunny/carefree but possibly… hopefully…




Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Parent. Soak up all the love gifted to you by the One who adores you… and has good plans for you. (Really.)

I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.  Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. ~ Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NCV)

Choose this Mother’s Day to honor your own momma. (Or her memory if you – like me – are missing her something fierce.)

Blessing her will bless you.


The commandment ‘Honor your father and mother’ is the first one with a promise attached: so that things will go well for you, and you will live for a long time in the land. ~ Ephesians 6:2-3 (CEB)

Be kind to yourself. (Please do this, for heaven’s sake.)

It’s not selfish; it’s necessary. Like water/sleep/food/air.

Nourish and tenderly care (for yourself)… Ephesians 6:29 (NRSV)

And know that there are lots of moms out there who see you… and feel deeply. For you and with you. Your story matters to a whole lot of people who care.

Love and sympathy from one of them,


P.S. Today is my mother’s birthday. (She’s celebrating in heaven… but I’m having cake here and now.)

Happy 75th Birthday to the very best mother and friend a girl could ask for.


The Mother Lode

Sunday is all about the mommas.

And that’s a good thing. Because if you’re a mom (young, old, or somewhere in the bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived, daunting, desperate middle) pretty much all the other days are about… well… everybody else.

*********************************************************************************** Now I realize that Mother’s Day isn’t happy for everyone. (Because… grief, infertility, abuse, abandonment, addiction, estrangement.) And I don’t want to just blow past all that pain and suffering, because I know some of you can’t either.

I see your bruised and broken hearts. I do. And I pray somehow, some way, sometime very soon God’s grace and peace will find you… and hold you. Close.


Mother’s Day may feel like a hassle, chore, or cheesy Hallmark holiday to you. But if you’ve been gifted with a loving mother, Sunday is cause for celebration.

(Go ahead, make her day.)

In recognition of the most excellent (exhausting/exciting/ excruciating/exhilirating) job on earth, here’s my (loosely adapted and wildly re-imagined) take on the “best mom ever” as described in Proverbs 31:

Do you have any clue how tough it is to find a woman who’ll become an incredible partner and amazing momma? Young bucks, you’re far better off spending your time looking for her IRL, than scrolling/snapping/swiping night and day. Find and invest in a true gem, rather than a gadget, guitar, truck or car. You won’t regret it.

If you make a good match, you’ll have a lifelong lover, trustworthy advisor, fierce warrior and tender comforter by your side. She’ll bring blessing upon blessing. And one day, you’ll realize how rich you truly are. Because your woman will look out for you in ways you can’t imagine. She’ll make your house a home, your home a haven, and your heart happy.

Ever after.

She’ll be a helping hand, hard worker, wise investor, bargain hunter. Maybe a natural athlete or artist, savvy businesswoman, teacher or techie, master gardener or gourmet, gifted fashion designer, fisherwoman or physician, accomplished musician or mechanical engineer, brilliant architect/actuary/ author/astronaut. Or maybe she’ll simply make every day brighter, lighter, more festive and fun… because she’s a breath of fresh JOY. But whatever her talents and training, her teamwork will complement, hone and heighten yours. In short, she’ll make you a better man.

That’s the kind of woman you want by your side… for the adventure of a lifetime.

She’ll be captivating, no doubt. But it won’t be a bunch of razzle dazzle and designer dresses and photo filters and false eyelashes. (Charm is deceptive, aging is inevitable, and soap – and real life – have a way of washing away the razzle. And the dazzle too.) It’ll be true grit and amazing grace and a little bit of divine glory that shine in her… and enchant you.

A true beauty will be luminous and lovely… because her soul is.

She’ll be resourceful, resilient and relentlessly hopeful. Even in the daily grind.

Even in the worst of times.

She may be battle-weary but she’ll soldier on. She may be covered in spit-up and Paw Patrol stickers… but that won’t dim her radiant smile. She may be facing her fourth snow day in a row, but everybody’s supplied with warm flannel and hot chocolate and bedtime prayers.

And when the chips are down and the going gets rough, she’ll be tough, tender, true blue.

She’ll show compassion to friends and strangers alike. She’ll be generous and conscientious and confident and capable. So much so that at some point you might wonder if she really needs you at all. Don’t worry; she will. Because you’ll be the one holding her heart for safekeeping. (Careful there, pal.)

All the guys in the office, on the field, at the course will know and respect you. (And she’ll deserve a fair amount of credit for that.)

She’ll be kind, brave and wonder-full.

She’ll possess a sharp mind, a good sense of humor, and a wealth of sound advice. (If you’re smart, you’ll be humble enough to take it… and appreciate it.)

She’ll be a natural at nurturing and a pro at problem-solving. Again and again, you and your children will benefit from her foresight, fortitude, forgiveness and faith.

And you’ll give her props for all of the above. 

(‘Cause she deserves it.)

Pretty tall order. Truth be told, there isn’t a mother in the history of humankind who’s nailed it. Not even close. (So… moms, toss the inferiority complex. It’s not your color.)

But if your mom even vaguely resembles this maternal force of nature, you have every reason to be grateful. On Sunday and every other day of the year, too.

If you got a gem (by birth, adoption or divine intervention), you hit the mother lode.

And if you’ve yet to find that elusive, exquisite – and affordable – Mother’s Day gift, I’m here for you. Here’s what Mom really wants.

You’re welcome.

(And blessed.)



Postscript to Z, M, J and T: It’s true what they say. A good woman is hard to find.

Look for her. Pray for her. Wait for her.

And in the meantime, get busy making yourself worthy of her.

(I trust you will.)




What Mom Really Wants

My dear reader,

This is a public service announcement to everyone who has a mom on the planet. Or a step-, foster- or fairy godmother. Or a female guardian/grandma/den mother/team mom/mother-from-another-brother… or momager. (Kylie and Kendall, I’m talking to you.)

Mother’s Day will be upon us in less than 48 hours. Stay woke.

I realize some of you may secretly rankle at the thought of paying homage to your mom, year after year after year. Maybe you think Mother’s Day is overhyped… or undeserved.

Think again, dear heart. (<Withholding judgment, making no mention of cluelessness, self-absorption or ingratitude on the part of those who don’t observe this holiday.)

Mothering is the toughest and most tricky/trying/tiring (and occasionally terrifying) job around. It’s also the most tender/terrific/transcendent (and occasionally triumphant) job around. Which is why Homo sapiens aren’t extinct.

Do you have any idea how much strength, skill, faith and fortitude it takes to suction nasal passages, administer oral medication, and remove a wad of earwax from a writhing, hysterical toddler? And then immediately thereafter wash and sort 37 pairs of socks (in sizes/colors/brands/designs ranging from 2T to C3PO, team colors to white-turned-dull-grey, Adidas to assorted dinosaurs), change 3 diapers, read 6 board books (or read the same board book 6 times), provide engineering consultation for a Lego fortress, apply teething gel, load a crockpot, extract a splinter, teach a math lesson using blueberries, tie a bib/shoe/superhero cape, craft a carefully-worded email to an overzealous T-ball coach, bathe a dog and a handful of grimy action figures, kiss/clean/bandage 2 boo boos, make organic applesauce (after chaperoning the preschool orchard field trip yesterday), unclog a toilet, research skin rashes and night terrors, play Mario Kart/Candyland/Connect 4, find a pacifier, a pair of glasses, the remote control, a sippy cup, a stuffed elephant and 3 overdue library books, fix a broken zipper, create a template for a princess crown from a paper plate, schedule a dentist appointment, battle grass and ketchup stains, arrange a playdate, dispense nutritional/behavioral/hygiene advice and unload the dishwasher all before 8:30 am? (But for Christ and coffee, none could prevail.)

And this is just the apprenticeship program, folks. Eventually these moms of preschoolers will be required to brave the wild frontier of kindergarten, run the gauntlet of the primary grades which includes the raging inferno of 3rd grade homework-hell as well as the dreaded 5th grade science fair project, only to then suffer the crucible of adolescence. Godspeed to all the moms with kids in junior high. (I mean that.)

The reward for mothers who survive to this point?

High school. Which is not nearly as perfectly pitched and well-choreographed as the Disney musical.

Yep, we get to revisit those four years of angst and acne and awkward once again. And watch our kids do all the stupid things we did. And cringe/pace/pray as they pull out of the driveway for the first time… and try to find their way in this crazy world.

We mother them, try not to smother them, and then send them off to a place filled with other inexperienced, immature, impulsive teenagers, knowing full well the potential for heartache and havoc wreaked by bad boys, mean girls, fakers, takers, drama queens, bullies, posers, pushers… and…


(Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.)

I’ve been a mom since 1990. Which means I’ve been “celebrated” on 28 Mother’s Days. And I’ve decided it’s high time I let you in on a little secret.

Here’s what moms really want:

A little gratitude.

Even after kindergarten, “thanks” is still a magic word. Especially when it is accompanied by real-life, heartfelt specifics. As in, thank you for feeding me every dang day for 18+ years. That’s 6570 dinners and 2405 sack lunches, give or take. (Breakfast is self-serve around here. Cheerios, anyone?)

I know, I know. Your mom’s not perfect. You’ve got a gripe or two. Or maybe you have hundreds. And they’re all legit. If so, I’m sorry. I truly am. And I pray you find peace. In a perfect world, everyone should get an incredible momma. But isn’t there something – anything – you can thank yours for? How about your life? She did give you free room and board for about nine months before you were born. (And she could have legally put an end to you earlier, if she chose. So there’s that.) If you can muster up a little mercy for your less-than-perfect mom…

Give thanks. And do so sweetly, sincerely, specifically. (Preferably in person.)

A text – even a lengthy one with blowing kisses and a colorful string of heart emojis – doesn’t really cut it. (Fear not, far-flung millenials, there’s always FaceTime.) Even if you’ve been a stinkbomb lately, your mom wants to hear your voice. And your apology, if it’s ready… and doesn’t contain the word “but.” Any and all words of genuine gratitude, affection, affirmation, and love are always welcome.


You know what else Mom wants?

A helping hand. (Do dishes. Fold laundry. Wash windows. Sweep the garage. Vacuum her car. STRAIGHTEN YOUR ROOM!) Can’t afford a Mother’s Day gift? Clean the bathrooms. (That includes tubs and toilets, rookie.) You will be her Mother’s Day hero(ine). A pristine bathroom is right up there with pearls… and Hamilton tickets.

A token of affection. Preferably a lasting one. Put a little thought – and heart – into it. That means just. say. no. to the paltry bouquet near the checkout at Kroger. And the big box of assorted chocolates strategically located there too. (Especially if she’s trying to eat Paleo. Pay attention, people.) Don’t get me wrong, chocolate is essential in the trenches of motherhood, both for consolation and celebration. But a pre-wrapped package of Fannie May Meltaways requires no effort or creativity whatsoever. Think outside the box. What are her favorite places and pasttimes? What does she like to wear/read/eat/enjoy? Choose something meaningful and wrap it with heartstrings. (Framed photos, original artwork, homemade treats, and tickets/reservations/itineraries for a special outing/adventure together earn bonus points.)

And then there’s the always-coveted and rarely-bestowed holy grail of Mother’s Day bounty for all the weary mommas who are on duty 24/7/365:

A day off.

A blessed, blissful… break. A “Get Out of Cooking/Cleaning/Caregiving Free” card. An afternoon all to herself. Time to read/rest/relax. Or run/spin/kickbox, if that’s her thing. A few hours to wander a park, meander a mall, hike a trail, or simply stroll… without the stroller. After the shock wears off (and before the offer is rescinded), most moms will be racing for the door, feeling positively giddy. Or putting on PJs and climbing back into bed. (Every mom on the planet knows that sleep deprivation turns ugly… quick. We fight back with everything in our arsenal: catnaps, chamomile tea, lavender oil, and liquid therapy. Meaning whatever’s on sale at Total Wine.)

But what about the moms whose babies have already – and all too soon – grown and flown? The ones who sigh wistfully when they see mommas with littles in the grocery store, pushing piled-high carts and sorting coupons and corralling offspring. They (we) remember the kiddie chaos, the sheer exhaustion, the desperate prayers. And we reflect on the hard, humbling, holy work that is mothering.

All we want this Mother’s Day is…


The gift of your presence. The welcome sight of your smiling face. The warmth of that big bear hug. The wonder in those twinkling eyes. That unmistakable laugh. The inside jokes.

The precious gift of togetherness.

(Those of us who have buried our mommas, we know now… how precious it really is.)

So, go on now.

Honor/hug/humor/help your mother this weekend. Say “thank you” for something specific. Bless her… and give her a break. (Or a nap.)

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:2-3)

Looking for the good life?

Bless your momma.


P.S. Happy Mother’s Day – and CONGRATULATIONS – to the winner of my little Spring Fling Reader Contest, Charlene M of Illinois! Your DIY garden gift package is on its way!